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Guest: CEO Coaching International’s Alberto Carvalho, a global business leader with extensive experience in the fast-moving consumer goods industry. Alberto had a successful 26-year career at Procter & Gamble that included serving as vice president of Gillette’s global business as well as CEO of Procter & Gamble’s Brazil operations. He’s worked in five different countries and he’s led businesses ranging from $25 million to $3 billion in sales.
Episode in a Tweet: A former Procter & Gamble and Gillette exec used this 4-step process to launch products all over the globe.
Quick Background: Today’s best-seller will be in tomorrow’s bargain bin. The companies that avoid this fate always have one eye on what’s next. They’re creative, they’re innovative, they’re willing to experiment, and they’re prudent about how they expend time and resources when it comes to refreshing their product lines.
On today’s show, Alberto Carvalho outlines a four-step process to product development that he honed while working for some of the world’s biggest businesses. Alberto’s process won’t just get you from prototype to finished product – it will get you there with minimal waste and with a maximum shot at hitting BIG returns with your customers.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
Alberto Carvalho’s Four-Step Process for Product Development
1. Immerse yourself in the world of your target consumer.
“Everything starts with the consumer,” Alberto Carvalho says, “so we want to develop something for them. And to do that you have to learn about them. You have to see the world as they see it and not as we see with our biases. You need to understand how they use a product of that category.”
Surveying your customers about potential new offerings and digging deeper into your current numbers are good places to start. But when Alberto was developing products at Procter & Gamble and Gillette, he would employ agencies that connected his team with people in his target demographics for in-home visits in Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, India, China, and Thailand. Watching men shave in India, Alberto’s team noticed many men had nails on their bathroom walls that they hung their razors on. So they made razors with holes in the handles, adapting their product to the consumer rather than expecting their consumer to adapt.
If flying to the other side of the world to watch people shave sounds excessive, Alberto has seen what happens when companies try to cut corners during this critical research phase:
“P&G wanted to develop a product to prevent clogging razors in India. They developed the product in Boston, and they hired about 150 Indian students from MIT to test it. The results were outstanding. Then they launched in India and it was a major failure. I arrived there about a year later and I said, ‘Guys, you tested it with consumers in the wrong place.’ When you go to India, you don’t have running water, you don’t have hot water, you don’t have a mirror in the house of the low-income consumers. I think that’s a good example of how really immersing with consumers where they are really gives you the right insights to develop solutions.”
2. Prototype and test.
You need to move as quickly as possible from identifying a consumer need to designing a potential solution. Alberto believes that technology and the global marketplace give CEOs a big advantage at this critical step.
“Today with 3D printing it’s much easier for you to bring a solution to consumers,” he says. “Before, you would have to have almost a pilot plant to produce the product on a much smaller scale. That would take a long time and was expensive. Now you can get parts from different suppliers and put it together as you do the prototyping. Many times, you can actually share with consumers a 3D design on a computer to have the first interaction before you have the real product itself. So now prototyping has become much easier to do, much faster and much cheaper.”
“Fast and cheap” aren’t two words you usually hear us talk about in a good light at CEO Coaching International. But both are essential to prototyping. Alberto says that no matter how strong your NDAs are, expect that your prototypes will leak to the public one way or another, most likely on social media. You have to be able to adjust quickly to feedback from early testers so that you can get to the marketplace before the inevitable knockoffs.
3. Large-scale testing.
Alberto Carvalho sees a limited rollout as more of a luxury that some larger companies can afford, especially if the new product represents a big investment. Those that do go this route usually let 300 to 1000 consumers use the product and offer feedback. This is also the stage where you might run the proverbial “Pepsi challenge” and do blind testing or comparisons with competing products.
On the other hand, “Some companies trust qualitative prototyping and the hunch that they have a winning product and they go after it,” Alberto says. “It will all depend on how much risk you are willing to take.”
4. Fine-tune your launch strategy.
“There are many aspects to launch mode,” Alberto Carvalho says, “because you have the production, you have to plan the distribution, the marketing, and everything else to make the launch of that new solution very successful.”
Alberto believes that having a diverse team of top-notch talent is one key to a successful launch. Get input from the c-suite and the ground floor, men and women, different backgrounds, different perspectives. You never know who’s going to notice the “nail on the wall” that could radically re-shape your strategy.
But ultimately this is your product, designed for your customers, with the aim of taking your company to the next level. Alberto believes that the most successful products have the CEO’s fingerprints all over them from day one.
“I truly believe that the CEO needs to be heavily involved,” Alberto Carvalho says. “The CEO will be able to understand what are those needs and desires instead of being told about it. It’s not that someone’s going to come to him or her and say, ‘Hey, that’s what we need to do.’ He will be there and he will see with his eyes. Most of the time he is also the most experienced in the group because she or he is the CEO. So, it will help to create insights for the development.”
1. The customer is the boss. Find out what your customers really want rather than trying to sell them what you think they want.
2. Move quickly. Prototyping should be fast, cheap, and responsive to feedback.
3. Get everyone involved. Empower your team to see things you might have missed.
Transcript: Download the full transcript here.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 350 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 20 different countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from $10 million to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for four years or more have experienced an average revenue CAGR of 40.1% during their time as a client, more than four times the national average. Additionally, clients have averaged 210% growth in profit while working with the firm. For more information, please visit: https://www.ceocoachinginternational.com